Ecological Theories in the Anthropocene: Exploring Human-Wildlife Conflict in the Makgadikgadi region of Botswana

Ms Katherine Orrick1

1Yale Univeristy – Forestry And Environmental Studies, New Haven, United States, 2Round River Conservation Studies, Salk Lake City, United States


Ecological concepts help link theory to conservation practice. By applying theories of species interactions to fieldwork, one can grasp a much greater understanding and inner-workings of an ecological system. Recent bodies of literature highlight the impact that humans, a super-predator, have on carnivores. This downgrade of carnivores from apex to mesopredator may lead to spatiotemporal partitioning and cause cascade effects on the rest of the surrounding environment (Oriol-Cotterill et al 2015). The idea of the human-caused Landscape of Fear (LOF) for apex predators has been seen as distinct and separate from natural impacts or resources. It can also be shaped by the diversity and size of the species community and how accurate the animal can predict being attacked (Bleicher 2017). I apply these theoretical concepts to the Makgadikgadi region of Botswana to help understand the dynamics of human-wildlife conflict (HWC). Where gaps exist I develop new or alternative theories, including predators LOF being shaped either by intraspecific competition or by humans. Humans use the landscape in different ways and unique from other species (McIntyre & Hobbs 1999), so these documented spatio-temporal or behavioural shifts are dissimilar to predator-prey concepts or even apex-mesopredator theories. The individual ecological needs, and animal abundances, for each facet of this system is critical for understanding the fundamental drivers of wildlife behavior and movements. Region-specific studies also help further develop and strengthen these ecological theories in the era of the Anthropocene.


Kaggie is currently a Ph.D. student at Yale University where her studies focus on Human/Wildlife Conflict in the Makgadikgadi/Nxai Pans of Botswana. She received a MA in Conservation Biology at Columbia University in 2015 where her thesis focused on anthropogenic features that influence elephant movement. Kaggie has been working with Round River in Botswana since September 2015.

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